Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Toots Hibbert - Toots in Memphis (1988)

This has become my favorite reggae album, rivaling Uprising, and one of my favorite cover albums. Mark Deming over at describes it best:

"Of all the great singers of reggae's golden era, Toots Hibbert of Toots & the Maytals was always the one most profoundly influenced by American soul music, so when Jim Dickinson brought Toots to Ardent Studio in Memphis to cut a set of '60s soul classics with a band anchored by reggae's greatest rhythm section, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, and fleshed out with the cream of Memphis' session talent (including Andrew Love of the Memphis Horns and guitarist Eddie Hinton), it seemed like a foolproof no-brainer. And, for a change, the no-brainer idea really worked; Toots in Memphis finds Hibbert in typically strong voice, jumping into these songs with full-throated passion (his take on 'I've Got Dreams to Remember' makes him sound like the greatest Otis Redding fan the island of Jamaica ever produced, and is alone worth the price of admission), and the band finds a middle ground between reggae, funk, and soul that's sensual and entirely satisfying. Though Toots never quite takes these tunes away from Otis Redding, Al Green, James Carr, or any of the other masters who first recorded them, he never fails to put his own stamp on the material, and the result is one of the great cross-cultural party albums of all times. In 1976, Toots Hibbert cut an album called Reggae Got Soul, and on Toots in Memphis he proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt."

My 2005 "limited edition" from Hip-O Records is in a cardboard sleeve just like an old LP. It also has an inner sleeve with no liner notes and that's as frustrating with CDs as it was with LPs.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart

Tracks: Don't skip any tracks. My favorites are I've Got Dreams To Remember, Love And Happiness, Love The Rain (a reworked version of Ann Peebles' I Can't Stand The Rain), Freedom Train, and Hard To Handle. I'm guessing The Black Crowes never heard Toot's version of Hard To Handle because if they had, they wouldn't have bothered with their cover.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Surprised I hadn't heard of it earlier, I came to this wonderful album only in February 2011, but this disc has spent a lot of time in my truck's CD player in the past year. Also, I visited the legendary Ardent Studios on a recent trip to Memphis. In addition to Toots In Memphis, much good music has been recorded in those walls: Big Star, ZZ Top, The Replacements, REM, Led Zepplin, The White Stripes, Cheap Trick, and on and on...

Previously revisited for the blog:
True Love (2004)
Best Of Toots & The Maytals (2001)

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